Watermill Theatre - Peter Pan
20th November 2014 to 4th January 2015
Review from the Newbury Weekly News and the British Theatre Guide.
Sprinkling of fairydust
Transforms The Watermill into Neverland, where you need never grow up
Peter Pan, at The Watermill, Bagnor, until January 4
The Watermill's fun-filled family-friendly Peter Pan is the perfect start to the festive season. Once again, the partnership of director and writer Robin Belfield and Simon Slater - who also composed the vibrant music - have come up trumps in this hugely enjoyable and pacey adaption of JM Barrie's classic story.
Neil Irish's colourful, inventive set transports us from the streets of London to the magical world of Neverland, "second star to the right and straight on till morning", with the help of some fairydust.
The talented cast of six actor/musicians are terrific, relishing every moment of this adventure tale.
In a clever twist, Bronte Tasman, a recent graduate from the Oxford School of Drama, enthusiastically plays Wendy as a feisty tomboy who loves playing pirates and boys' games,
Jay Worley is the spirited Peter Pan, enjoying the delights of innocent boyhood, and determined not to grow up. He revels in being the leader of the Lost Boys and is totally convincing.
Returning to The Watermill for the sixth year, Morgan Philpott is a powerful, domineering, evil Captain Hook, with great facial expressions and physical presence. Talking to his exceedingly large hook called Horatio was a nice touch, resulting in some unexpected outcomes. By contrast, he gave a warm-hearted performance as Mr Darling.
Abiola Ogunbiyi portrayed Tiger Lily as a defiant woman, fed up playing the damsel in distress, she wants to go on adventures with the Lost Boys.
Splendidly playing all the other characters are Oliver Izod and Ed Thorpe, who worked their socks off, with swift costume changes as they become Lost Boys Slightly and Tootles, as well as pirates Smee and Starkey, and even camp mermaids - truly hilarious - but I won't spoil it.
The games turn serious, however, as Hook is determined to kill Peter for real and it's only the clock in the crocodile that makes him fearful.
There is great audience participation as we all clapped to bring Tinkerbell back to life after she drank the poisoned milk meant for Peter and we all threw 'cannon balls' to defeat Hook - tremendous fun.
With many groan-making pirate puns and swashbuckling swordfights, this is a superb show that entranced both children and adults, who enthusiastically responded with 'woo hoos', repeating Peter's call, and much well-deserved applause. Highly recommended.
There are reviews from The Stage ("an engaging interpretation which showcases the cast members’ talents for multitasking" - 4 stars), the Oxford Times ("there are other productions of Peter Pan around this Christmas, but none, I suspect, will beat this one for getting into the spirit of J M Barrie’s original story"), WhatsOnStage ("a joyous reworking of a classic for a modern audience of young and old" - 4 stars), Daily Info ("great fun, energetic, and has just the right amount of menace and pathos for a light-hearted Christmas show"), the Gazette and Herald ("huge fun and perfect for Christmas").